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American Women: Partners in Research

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American Women: Partners in Research


Published 1960


Describes the market research undertaken by Corning Glass Works prior to marketing a coffeemaker.


Run time 12:54
Producer Holland-Wegman Productions
Sponsor Corning Glass Works
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W

Shotlist

Describes the market research undertaken by Corning Glass Works prior to marketing a coffeemaker.
Good CU head shots of women thinking about purchasing items, saying things like "Oh, I like THAT one!! and the like."


Women Consumerism Hats Coffee klatches Marketing research Research (marketing) License plates Coffee percolators Appliances Corning Glass Co. Laboratories Testing Product testing Housewares Kitchens Shopping Gender roles Product design
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Reviews

Reviewer: techguy - favoritefavoritefavorite - December 19, 2006
Subject: Seen in Context...
Obviously this film is itself a marketing effort, intended to promote Corning while making a salient and fairly educational presentation of the concept of market research.

The ceramic nosecone positions Corning as a cutting-edge, modern concern. The prosaic appeal of a simple, but well-made and -designed home appliance positions Corning as a benign institution of everyday life.

The high-tech nosecone is far less "phallic" than the thrusts of some reviewers here. The implicit sexism of the film is no part of its message and would have raised nary an eyebrow in its day; such was life in the 60's in America. (Honest, I was there.) Viewed in its temporal and cultural context, it's not the least bit offensive, unless you're a knee-jerk misandrist. But its contrast with the present in that sense is remarkable.

As for the women being "unpaid," that's a bizarre and baseless assumption. Doubtless the public were encouraged to express their opinions and preferences at the marketing displays at the Corning museum. But those who participated in any depth would have been given any number of incentives, including money. The same patterns hold today. Do a survey on the street or in a mall, and you get maybe a coupon if you're lucky. Participate in a focus group and you'll be paid, maybe even well-paid.

Though it has grown generally more sophisticated, market research of this sort makes a great deal of sense and it remains a mainstay of consumer product development. It is if anything, more involved and entwined in the "creative" process than it was in 1960.
Reviewer: Marysz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 9, 2006
Subject: Unpaid housewives boost corporate profits
"It starts with men," intones long-gone anchorman Chet Huntley as he fondles a conspicuously phallic nosecone. This 1960 film showed how the Corning Glass company used unpaid American women (aka "Mrs. Research") to test and evaluate Corning products. Huntley uses the word "women" repeatedly in a tone of scorn and condescension that reflects the anger that the management of Corning probably felt at the time toward their female customers. In order to amortize the cost of the "phyto-ceram" that was used in the space program, they were forced to manufacture consumer products (i.e., Corningware). But the company had to cater to the whims of the illogical and capricious Mrs. Housewife. That must have stuck in their throats. Although they hired some female staff, most of the women who tested their products appear to have been unpaid, despite the fact that the company reaped millions from their input. The bizarre nosecone featured oddly and inappropriately throughout the film could stand for the mens' equally bizarre and inappropriate hubris towards their female customers.
Reviewer: BraddS - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 29, 2005
Subject: Remember: Grasp the Tip of the Cone Gently but Firmly with your Right Hand, Forming a Ring with Thumb and Forefinger.
Smugly condescending film about how one company "solved the problem of developing products - That Women Want!". (I didn't realize it was a problem.) Starts off with a great exterior shot of the classic modernist 50's visitor center (note the glass, steel and decorative stone materials, as well as the curtained glass window-walls). Beautiful and varied array of late 50's dress on the women entering the building (2-piece suits, large handbags, tiny hats, white gloves, little girls wearing dresses, white sweaters, hair ribbons and little hats), followed by frightening closeups of women saying "Oh I like THAT one!" while displaying mouthfuls of bad dental work. Quick cut to Chet Huntley perched on the edge of some guy's desk in a paneled office, using his best tough-guy manly voice to bring us "a report about this new partnership between industry and the American Woman" (guess Rock Hudson was busy that week). He then goes on to say (shouting every 3rd and 5th syllable) "it begins like THIS: basic research develops new materials to cope with the space age we're living in. This rocket nose cone is an example: it's made of pyroceram...a nose cone has to be tough and durable to resist the rigors of supersonic flight." Translation: the "rigors" don't happen on the way up, Moron, they happen on the way down, as the nuclear warhead AND its protective nose cone re-enter the earth's atmosphere at several thousand miles per hour. And three guesses why it has to resist those "rigors" Jackass, and I'll bet even your "simple housewives" know that one.

One other great moment occurs at about the 1/3 mark when Chet challenges us by saying "Now how accurate ARE the Opinion Center findings?" I thought I was finally going to find out about their consumer opinion research methodology, but then he goes on to say: "Well, so far - THEY'VE NEVER BEEN WRONG!" Gee, I'm no statistician, but I'll bet THAT's not sufficient stochastic proof. Of ANYTHING!

I have no idea who this film was made for, but my best guess would be sales and marketing types. I also have to wonder whether the sole purpose of the film was to alienate every woman in the audience. It may have far more value as a window on the fashions and styles of 1960 than as an accurate reflection of men's attitudes towards women at the time. However, even though I was only 7 years old then, I am pretty sure it accurately reflects my dad's attitudes at that time.

Four stars for the good photography of interior and exterior everyday scenes from 1960, and for the recorded evidence that cave-man attitudes towards women existed in our society within living memory.
Reviewer: Steve Nordby - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 4, 2004
Subject: The oldest profession in the world
It all starts with men. They get a nice hard product for the tip of a rocket. But when they try to percolate with it, the women won't buy it. So men hire women to teach them how to give women what they want. Women want a certain shape and style before they brew. So the men heat it up and plunge it into cold water over and over before they get it right. Forget logic, it's about giving women what they want. And that takes research with women themselves.
Reviewer: Fireyfox - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - September 10, 2003
Subject: Men do the clever stuff, women exercise their whims. What a load of rubbish!
Hilarious sexist view of production of goods in 1960.

Well now, here we have these new materials which only men can understand (like this rocket nose cone he's fondling). But, and he condescends not, the girls make all the choices. Don't argue logically with the wife. She doesn't comprehend advanced ceramics, but she knows what colour goes with the kitchen; the whole film is laughable in the extreme.

Classic quotes abound. "Women pour like this because they're not too strong. Oh yes, look how clever they are to do it like that."

Well, I'm a guy and I pour like that so I can see where I'm pouring! Any woman I know can take a perculator and whirl it round the room on the end of her little finger. Pouring out a cup of coffee is not a question of strength, I think most people can work that one out!

All in all, worth watching though for a typical time slice of prevailing ideas. Nowadays there would be women in the lab and as many house husbands buying the perculators so go figure :-)

William Fox
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 28, 2003
Subject: American Women: Partners in Research
This 50s film, sponsored by Corning Glass, is purportedly about market research in consumer products, but it's really one long, oppressive collection of gender-role stereotypes. It starts with a campy sequence of head shots of housewives expressing their preferences, though for what, we don't know. Then our manly host Chet Huntley appears and over scenes of women shopping and drinking coffee in a kitchen says, "These women are doing research." Chet then tells us all about how companies like Corning are using the opinions of women to design household products, in a tone similar to one an animal behaviorist might use when presenting his paper on the social behavior of some rare species of jungle fauna. He does this while stroking a large phallic-looking rocket nose cone on his desk, and he is careful to specify that all the designers and engineers are MEN. He also mentions that although they are all great designers, all their hard work could come to naught because "women have minds of their own." Then we get to see the step-by-step process Corning uses to design a new coffee percolator. This includes lots of fun scenes of industrial machinery exposing Corningware dishes to various kinds of abuse. The only women employees shown are one woman whose job it is to test the coffee pot to see if it makes coffee that meets the standards of the Coffee Institute, and, of course, the "girls" in the test kitchen. All these women probably got home economics degrees from Iowa State College. In the end, the percolator is put to the ultimate test by being offered for sale in a department store. Husbands are informed that due to the sophisticated mind-control, er, I mean, "market research" techniques by Corning, their wives will demand the coffee pot despite all logic. This film is a must-see for a "ladies night" of mstingÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂyou hardly know where to start with it. Though no one instance of sexism is particularly jaw-dropping, it has a cumulative effect that just doesn't quit.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Reviewer: dynayellow - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 16, 2003
Subject: If only we didn't have to deal with women!
This film presents a hilarously sexist view of market research, realizing that women drive a lot of the sales for home items, and resenting them for it every step of the way. Great lines: "It starts with MEN (designing the product)." "It's no use arguing logically with your wife." Also seems to imply that the big problem with designing new products is that women have a mind of their own, and won't simply buy whatever men sell them.

The cherry on top is Chet stroking that missle nosecone every chance he gets. Great stuff, though the sound seems to be out of synch in parts.
Reviewer: Mr. Cullet - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 14, 2003
Subject: Man, does this ever take me back
I bet there aren't many reviewers who actually see people they know from their childhoods in these things (and I don't mean Chet), but having grown up in Corning, a lot of this film looks disturbingly familiar. There is some great 1960 writing in the script, "You can't argue logically with your wife" is among the best.

Wow.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 26, 2002
Subject: Chet Hutley tells it like it is about Percolators
What DO women want?

An exploration of that hard hitting topic is explored in this fascinating film about the 'new' science, Market Research, circa 1960. The film opens with Chet Hutley sitting beside a steel cone on a desk. He starts talking, and pretty soon, you're wondering.. 'what's with that thing on the desk?' Soon Hutley explains that the material used for the cone, is being used for supersonic rocket travel (which explains the picture of the rocket taking off behind him) AND of normal kitchen items... like percolators! Chet says that 2/3 of women use percolators, and to drive the point down, it's also displayed on a peg board in block letters. Chet then says that marketing new products in the home is difficult, 'as 4 out of 5 new products don't succeed in the marketplace'. Why not just make percolators then? Then 2/3's of homes will have them?
Anyways, the design and testing, both lab and by market research are used to find the right model and shape that women want. Oh yes, size of handle, metal bands, even pretty star pictures are all taken into serious consideration. Soon, the final product is on the shelf. Will it be successful? That's for the woman to find out.
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